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The Sadies, Main Hall, Aug. 18

Posted by Drew / August 23, 2006

Photos by Liam Maloney

In a recent interview, Emily Haines made a comment to the effect that she was beginning to question her involvement in pop music; the whole scene is, she observed, just a beer-driven-ego-drive. 2 things strike me about this comment: First, it is such an Emily Haines-ish thing to say. Second, well, yeah, of course, she’s right—an obvious but acute assessment. I agree with her, although I am not sure I take her dim view of it.


Pop music may not change anyone’s life, but it can provide a much-needed soundtrack to get through many of life’s dull and painful times. As for show-going, well, I like a beer-fuelled-ego-driven trip once in awhile. I can believe for an evening that I am, in fact, the best version of myself, everyone is pretty damned attractive, and, for a few hours, I can relax with the sense that for now, for right now, everything is as it should be. Tomorrow’s headache and the minutia of cleaning the fridge motor and picking up Q-tips at the pharmacy is still hours and hours away.

The precise alchemy of the pop music show is unknown, but at its best it can bring on the greatest almost-natural high, which is how I have always thought of pop shows: The almost-natural high for people who almost never jog.

Sometimes though things do not gel, and The Sadies at the Main Hall was that sort of time. The Sadies have been on the road for years now, and are continuing their heady touring pace. They are musician’s musicians, respected as a band in their own right and for their non-stop and diverse sidemen gigs. They are so comfortable on stage; you have the sense that they have just invited you into their living room. And, goddamn, they are tight. You fell that some Rumpelstiltskin-like imp with magical powers could go up on stage and blindfold the members, poke their heads with a hat-pin, break their guitar strings, kick them in the shins, and The Sadies would play on through it, not missing a beat—not even noticing the intrusion. These guys are pros.

But for all that, this particular show never took off. Playing a selection of old and new songs, the band was on fire, but not giving off any heat. The only moment where I felt like things could maybe fly was during Dallas Good’s rendition of Porter Wagoner’s “Tell Her Lies and Feed her Candy.” The song has the bouncy country jamboree feel that The Sadies completely and authentically embrace—so many other bands would only touch the tune from the safe distance of irony or kitsch.


Then they announced that a friend of theirs was in the house, maybe a bad move as it sets your imagination soaring; The Sadies, after all, have a lot of friends. But in this case it was Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor. He led the band through a few songs and it felt, well, it felt like Blue Rodeo, in all their undeniable talent and absolute mediocrity. As consummate sidemen maybe The Sadies have a chameleon-like ability to take on the coloring of the artist they are backing.

Or is it all just a mean projection of my own beer-fuelled and bruised little ego. When Liam, the photographer for the show, sent me an e-mail about the pics, he talked of the show as an especially special one. My memory of the show is that Main Hall is unbearably hot when it is packed with people and that this year’s crop of “McGill students” is super annoying. I may just be out of whack.

Do go catch The Sadies when Heavy Trash plays at Café Campus on August 31.



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Ryani / February 5, 2015 at 07:01 am
Gotcha. Yeah, I'd say that was definitely true in pleacs like Los Angeles, where you had a wartime manufacturing base that seamlessly transitioned into a postwar manufacturing base not available in Britain. Obviously, the economic ripple effect was gigantic.That said, for much of rural America huge swaths of the midwest and deep south there wasn't substantive difference economically from 1929-1949. It was dirt poor before the war, during the war, and after the war. So, where Britain was blown to bits and had to slowly and painfully rebuild the country's infrastructure, much of rural America never had infrastructure to begin with.But, I definitely agree with you that Britain's enforced austerity was felt by everybody in Britain whose name wasn't preceded by words like Queen or Duke. I'm also fascinated by how growing up amidst rationing and general want gestated psychologically on (obvious example) bands like The Beatles. It couldn't help but have a tremendous impact, right?

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